Maria asks for funding for lycra bedsheets and a trampoline to help her 4 year old son manage his developmental delay or disability. She mentions he needs help with:

  • emotional regulation
  • sensory processing
  • sleeping
  • general behaviour. 

Would we fund this?

No, we would not typically fund this equipment to support a child with a developmental delay or disability. This is because it’s not likely to meet our criteria that 'the support will be, or is likely to be, effective and beneficial for the participant, having regard to current good practice.' 

Why wouldn’t we fund it?

There isn’t enough research or evidence that tells us this type of sensory equipment is effective. In fact, some research shows that this sensory equipment isn’t likely to help improve functional capacity. Some equipment, such as trampolines and weighted blankets, may even be harmful for children younger than 6 years old. Other research shows there are better methods.

This means these supports are not likely to be 'reasonable and necessary'. But as you can see below, we balance this against other evidence. This includes trials that test whether the equipment is effective for you.

There are also some other things we’ll take into account. 

  • many sensory supports such as balls, fidgets, trampolines and swing sets are difficult to separate from everyday household items. This means they are things that most people are likely to have in their home. They could be seen as day-to-day living costs, which can’t be funded by us
  • sensory supports such as swings, trampolines and splash pools are often available and accessible in the community or through community providers. As they’re publicly available for a low cost, the benefits of these supports are generally not enough to justify funding them. So they’re not value for money under our criteria. 

To decide if a support is reasonable and necessary for you, we also think about the information you give us under the other NDIS Funding Criteria

What else do we think about?

We may look at funding sensory equipment for you where there’s evidence that shows it:

  • is value for money compared with alternatives
  • is effective and beneficial 
  • provides better support than other options more commonly available.

To support your request, you need to give us evidence from before and after a trial that shows you’ve seen beneficial results from these supports. This evidence must come from a therapist.

You’ll also need to meet other reasonable and necessary criteria in the NDIS Funding Criteria.

Case example

Waru is a 4 year old child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. His family would like him to continue developing how he manages his emotions (emotional regulation). They would also like support to help him sleep, and manage his behaviour.  

His family has asked for:

  • a weighted blanket and lycra bed sheets to improve sleep
  • a swing set and massage ball to help with emotional regulation

To work out if this sensory equipment is reasonable and necessary, we look at the information Waru’s parents give us against the NDIS Funding Criteria. Along with other reasonable and necessary criteria, we think about whether:

  • Waru needs the sensory equipment directly because of his disability needs
  • we have evidence from an individual trial that shows the sensory equipment is effective or beneficial for Waru
  • other evidence shows the equipment is safe and will not cause Waru harm.

We decide that the supports are not reasonable and necessary, and we don’t fund them. There are several reasons for our decision:

  • Waru already receives NDIS funding for early childhood intervention, with a team that’s working together to support him and his family. Funding for this sensory equipment would duplicate those supports. 
  • the swing set falls under the category of play equipment. This means it doesn’t meet the criteria of an “additional living cost” that’s needed “solely and directly” because of Waru’s disability. 
  • evidence has shown that weighted blankets may cause harm. We won’t provide or fund a support that “is likely to cause harm to the participant or pose a risk to others”.  
  • a therapist hasn’t done a trial of the lycra bed sheets and massage ball with Waru. There’s also no evidence from clinical studies that lycra bed sheets and a massage ball are likely to be any more effective or beneficial for Waru than his current supports.

For more information, refer to:

This page current as of
6 July 2021
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